Traveling can be a major factor in a derailed diet. Whether you have to travel for work or you get to travel for pleasure, it isn’t always easy to stay healthy on the road. But with a little prep work and an arsenal of tips, your next holiday doesn’t have to mean starting from square one again when you get home. I asked two of our healthiest and most knowledgeable contributors to rack their brains and come up with a slew of tips on how to stay healthy no matter where you’re headed.
Before you Go
Nutritionist Kelly Aronica stresses the importance of “eating healthy before you leave as an easy way to feel great at the start of your trip. You won’t want to ruin that by overeating abroad.” She suggests five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day, as well as healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish, will set you straight before an adventure of any size. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Slaff)
Taryn Cox, of TheWife.com, cuts out sugar for two full weeks before traveling. She says “not eating sugar always helps to lose those last few extra pounds that become really important especially if you’ll be in a bikini. I could never cut out carbs completely, but I’ll keep an extra watchful eye before going on holiday.”
Planning ahead for travel days is essential. Airports can be tough for healthy food choices (although options are becoming more plentiful, especially in luxury lounges). Cox prepares by eating a satisfying, healthy meal on her way to the airport. “I never eat on an airplane! It is my golden rule. I don’t care how hungry I get, eating on an airplane will always make you feel bloated when you arrive, which is a terrible way to kick off a vacation. Instead, I leave my house an hour earlier and eat on my way. That way, the food has had time to digest before takeoff.” (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Aubrey Arenas)
If you’re worried about not having food options on a long-haul flight, Aronica suggests bringing healthful and light snacks from home — dried fruits, trail mix, crackers, or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will all fill you up in the right way. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/bondidwhat)
They both agree that the easiest and healthiest thing you can do on a flight is drink plenty of water. Book an aisle seat if you have to, but water will make you feel as normal as possible when you de-plane. (Cox sometimes carries an approved TSA-sized mini-spray bottle filled with Evian or Avene mineral water to spritz on her face during the flight.)
Cox’ secret tip that she swears by is to take two Gas-X chewables right after you board your flight. “Somehow, even though I avoid eating on planes, I can still feel very bloated after flying. The best trick I’ve learned to combat it is to chew on two Gas-X before takeoff. They keep your intestine from swelling during the flight. It may not be scientific, but now I always arrive feeling fresh and with a flat stomach!” (Photo courtesy of Flickr/bending light)
Aronica notes how difficult it is to not overeat while traveling abroad and suggests paying attention to the sizes of your meals and planning accordingly. “While there is nothing you need to avoid completely while traveling (unless it’s for allergic or health reasons, like contaminated water), perhaps pick one meal for the day where you’re indulging and try to keep the other two healthy and light.” She also recommends ordering dishes that are heavy on veggies and fish or sharing appetizers and side dishes with your table to keep a meal diverse and healthy. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Dude With Camera)
One thing Cox says can be a killer when trying to stay healthy is jetlag. Getting yourself situated to a new time zone can help with not overeating or snacking at odd hours. She suggests relying (not too heavily, of course) on sleep aids like Ambien or non-prescriptions like melatonin, chamomile tea, and kava-kava.
She also stows granola bars, mixed nuts, or protein bars in her carry-on, helping to avoid such pitfalls as a hotel mini-bar. Tips like frequently washing your hands, drinking plenty of water, walking to discover your destination, and applying sunscreen daily may seem like common sense, but they are crucial in making sure your holiday (and your return home) is healthy. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/secretpizzas)
Heading home, you should try to get yourself back on track as soon as possible, according to Aronica. Staying hydrated and settling back into your healthy eating habits are paramount. Eating three healthy meals per day can help you readjust to your time zone as will getting back into your regular workout routine.
Check out Taryn Cox' guide to traveling healthy with kids!